Top Five Mistakes in Web Design

With the explosion of the web – from new sites to new friends / pages on Facebook to new followers on Twitter and new connections on LinkedIn, there are distractions and sites screaming out for our attention all over the place. So how does a professional website design agency do it right? Well here are five mistakes we avoid:

  1. Not having a call to action
    The biggest problem we see is web sites that don’t have a clear call to action. Without a next step, people will visit, view and leave. Without contacting you, buying from you, becoming your customer. Sometimes the next step is to click to the next page – that’s ok. The key is to have a next step and many very reputable sites don’t have this crucial feature.
  2. Having too many calls to action
    Having too many calls is just as bad as not having any call to action. Two to four choices is best. If you cram 32 calls to action (I know a site that has that many), you lose people. Divide those 32 calls into four groups of eight each and present four calls to action on the home page and then perhaps give them all eight on the next but you’ll also likely see that you can combine two or more of the items into one, giving your visitors fewer choices. Remember the key is to not make the visitor have to think.
  3. Making the site all graphics
    Print designers make beautiful web sites. But they are often all graphics or flash which might make the website less usable and will definitely leave it ranked lower in search engines. The dirty little secret is that search engines index content and the best content to index is text. Putting the text into the graphics give you (or your designer) complete control over the look of the site but also makes it highly likely that Google won’t index that text, thus hurting your search rankings.
  4. Not providing context – navigation or breadcrumbs
    Many web site owners envision their site as all visitors starting on the home page and navigating through from there to the next level and the next is a logical progression. However with search being what it is, visitors coming through search may end up deep into your web site as their first page. Therefore it is incumbent on website owners / developers to clearly show the context of what page you’re on. This can be done through navigation devices such as highlighting the page you’re on in the navigation or even through breadcrumbs – displaying towards the top of the page where you at and the way back “home”.
  5. Providing too much or duplicate information
    Just last week I was on a site that looked like it was a lot bigger than what it was. There were lots of different calls to action but they all took me to the same form – a basic contact form. Having all kinds of differently labeled links going to the same place is not useful. Providing a lot more information than is necessary is not useful. Cut down on the prose and shoot for bulleted or numbered lists to get your point across. In the same way that you don’t want lots of different links pointing to the same place, you don’t want to have the same information in more than one place on the site. We see businesses making this mistake frequently. It becomes embarrassing when one section of the site mentions a conference on Thursday and Friday and another refers to the same conference but says it is on Friday and Saturday. People don’t know which to believe and it ends up hurting your credibility. Remember to Keep It Straight & Simple (KISS).

If you can avoid these five mistakes on your web site, your visitors will be much more likely to have a productive and enjoyable experience and you will be much more likely to capture their business.

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Click

Sometimes that is all it takes. Click and all the pieces fall into place. In our case that is usually what happens. We intentionally go after those “Click!” moments as that is when we know that we’ll be working with a new customer / partner.

Click happens when your internet marketing goals converge perfectly with your web site design. For each industry and even for each business the click is something unique that occurs when we connect what they want to accomplish (more customers, bigger customers, “stickier” customers, etc.) and the plan we have for designing their site come together just so.

While usually the “Click” seems to be an intuitive thing, there are steps you can follow to help you focus on what will click for your web site.

  1. Determine what sets your business apart from the competition. NOTE: Superior service is not what sets you apart. EVERYBODY says that. Consider niches or vertical markets that you work particularly well with.
  2. Ponder or brainstorm with others how you can leverage your unique selling proposition (what sets you apart) be highlighted or leveraged through your site. We recently did this with a tourism related site and came up with a unique trip planner that fits very nicely with their business goals. When we came up with the idea, we could almost hear the “Click” as everyone realized that happened.
  3. Look at what the competition is doing on their sites. Look especially at what they’re doing well and brainstorm how you can do it even better.
  4. Consider every area of what your business does. Too often all the attention is placed on customer acquisition when customer retention or customer engagement may be a better use of web resources. For example if your existing customers can log in and check the status of their account, that frees up more man power to be out acquiring new customers.
  5. Look at what your web site does now. Is it clear? More importantly, is it easy for visitors to take the next step (whatever that next step is)? Obfuscation in the name of design is a common mistake we see in web sites. It doesn’t matter how pretty your site is if it drives people away. Consider how you can streamline it – thinking about what steps or pages can be eliminated or combined.

While sometimes “Click” happens while working on one of these steps, as mentioned in step 2, it is more often considering all of these steps together when it happens.

If Click hasn’t happened on your site yet, take some time to work through these steps and see what happens.

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5 Things to Measure in Social Media Marketing

Most businesses engaging in Social Media Marketing measure things like “Likes” or “Followers”. That’s not bad but Internet Marketing is more than a popularity contest. For a small business

  1. Number of Interactions on Facebook – shows they’re engaged.
    Developing a successful Facebook page where your fans or “likers” not only like a particular item but make comments. Developing a following that interacts with you on social media emboldens them to interact with you as customer.
  2. Number of click-thru’s – from Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn back to your site.
    This is easy to track. It’s also, if something you’re measuring, easier to create ways for people to do so.
  3. Increase in number of people who attend an event or call you after/during a campaign.
    Depending on your business and the appropriate call to action, you might “see” the results as click thru’s but if you hold an event that was properly publicized on social media and see an increase in attendance or participation, you can begin to make the connection.
  4. Number of hits on a landing page on your site from a campaign.
    While similar to number of click-thru’s, creating a special landing page is one way to very clearly check how much traffic you get from your campaign. It is also smart because you can have a page specifically created for that campaign, making it highly targeted.
  5. Increase in customers as a direct result of a campaign
    Ultimately, your social media marketing needs to get you more customers. For each business the method of acquisition is different but you need to measure this or you might as well not even do social media in the first place.

It isn’t a popularity contest, it’s business. It’s important to measure things that impact your bottom line. Need more help figuring out what to measure? Check out our March 15 seminar, How to Build an Internet Marketing Plan.

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Measuring Up

What do you measure on your web site? Do you measure the number of hits? The number of unique visitors? The number of visits from search engines?
All of those might be useful to you. The key is to take in the big picture. It would be a shame to be ranked number 1 in the search engines for your key phrase and drive hundreds or thousands of visitors to your site but not get any business from it.
After all, aren’t we all in business to make money?
So when you measure, make sure that you measure throughout the funnel. How many calls or sales or submissions do you get through your web site? These are measurables that create direct contact with a potential customer. Once the web site has accomplished that, then it is up to you and your processes to close the deal.
So if you see that your web site traffic has doubled or tripled, or perhaps had a 20% increase, that should translate into an increased amount of direct contact measurables. If it hasn’t, it’s time to re-examine your site.
Now you will want to measure things like bounce rate and time on site to see what is and is not working. If your home page has a really high bounce rate, for example, then you need to look at what isn’t working on the home page. Is it difficult to navigate? Is it unclear what the next step is?
By evaluating what you’re measuring, you get the big picture and can make meaningful changes that will positively affect your bottom line.
During the cold war, the key US phrase was “Trust but Verify”. When it comes to your web site, the phrase should be “Measure but Evaluate”.

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A Look Back, A Look Ahead

What did you measure this year? All of us measure the bottom line but what else? Did you measure the number of new customers / clients? What about number of leads and number of those leads that converted into clients? Number of sales online? Number of new newsletter signups? Number of fans or followers on social media?

How did your numbers measure up? Some interesting things we noticed in our numbers: With the year not yet finished, we’ve already had 16% more visitors to our site this year over last. An online store we manage has had a 5 fold increase in sales and a lot more traffic.

For our site our traffic from search engines is actually down a bit over last year but that is because we’ve been focusing on our customer’s campaigns more than our own so we’re not too upset over that one.

Whatever you measure, make sure it adds to your marketing goals. If our goal was to get a lot of traffic from the search engines, you can be sure we would have paid a lot more attention and performed a whole lot better.

For the year ahead (don’t give up on this one yet though – there are still almost three weeks left) take time to set out your Internet Marketing goals. Start with your web site itself. If it conversion optimized? That is, is your site ready to convert visitors into customers? If you want to measure newsletter signups, for example, is the site geared towards getting visitors to do that? Are there barriers that you may have inadvertently put in place (such as asking for a physical address when all you need is an email address)?

Typically you want to have a conversion and a micro-conversion. If they aren’t ready to buy from you or ask you for a quote, perhaps they’ll sign up for your newsletter so they can stay in touch. Asking for a quote would be the conversion and the newsletter signup, the micro-conversion.

Once your site is ready, you can look at other marketing venues. Do you need Pay Per Click? Would a local search campaign make sense for you? How does social media marketing fit into the picture? Should you be tweeting? Do you need to claim your business on Foursquare? Will using QR codes help you reach your goals?

If you’re not thinking about these questions, I would suggest that you ought to be. If you’re not but feel like you should, give EduCyber a call at 303 268-2245. We can help you plan for a fantastic year.

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Can’t do Business the Same Old Way

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During a meeting with a potential client this week I made a casual inquiry, asking which payment processor they currently used for the ecommerce web site.

“Oh, we do it manually” they said. It turns out they use an antiquated system that sends them the customer’s credit card information via email. They then take that information and run it through their Point of Sale software to charge the account.

Oops. That is a dangerous if not illegal procedure.

Emails, by their very nature, travel from computer to computer across the internet. There are ample opportunities for one of these relaying computers to cache a copy of the email, with the customer credit card information. This then creates an opportunity for the information to not be secure. If this data is encrypted, it is reasonably secure. If not, it is a ticking time bomb. I don’t want to be there when the ticking stops.

Once the email has arrived, a host of other security issues arise:

  • Is the network secure?
  • Is the computer secure?
  • What happens with the email after the transaction has been processed?
  • Was it printed out?
  • If it was printed out, what is done with the print out after the transaction has processed?

In Colorado it is, to my understanding, illegal to store a hard copy of the complete credit card number of a customer.

If you are a merchant and aren’t sure if your system is compliant, a good place to get started is https://www.pcisecuritystandards.org/merchants/.

Another valuable source is EduCyber Endorsed SGP Services. Give Sean a call at 303-697-7799.
 

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EduCyber Workshop: Internet Marketing for the Decision Maker

EduCyber is pleased to announce their workshop “Internet Marketing for the Decision-Maker” on Wednesday, November 3 from 8:30 – 10:00. This in person workshop will be held in the 2nd Floor Conference room at 4251 Kipling St. in Wheat Ridge, Colorado.

In this fast-paced seminar Brian DeLaet, CEO of EduCyber, will introduce the five main questions any firm should ask of their Internet Marketing company. There is an incredible deluge of marketing offers from Search Engine Optimization to paid search to affiliate marketing. How do you know you’re getting the right mix for your company?

Attendees of this workshop will gain an understanding of:

  • What to look for in an Internet Marketing company
  • What the current trends in search marketing are
  • Whether to venture into social media marketing
  • How to build an integrated Internet marketing plan

Further information can be found at www.educyber.com (click on the Register Online for our seminars button). This seminar costs $19.95.

About EduCyber:
EduCyber, a web design and Internet marketing firm, is based in Wheat Ridge, Colorado since 1998. EduCyber specializes in designing and building websites that are optimized to generate business. EduCyber works with growing companies to position them properly on the Internet and build their sites in order to grow their businesses.

Current EduCyber customers include non-profit organizations like the MaxFund, the West Chamber Serving Jefferson County and Wheat Ridge 2020, as well as for-profit businesses particularly in the home services (HVAC, plumbing, electrical, landscaping) area and e-commerce sites for businesses large and small.

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Factors Affecting Your Web Site Success

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I went for lunch today at Heidi’s Brooklyn Deli in the Highlands area of northwest Denver. While I don’t go there frequently, I do like their food and atmosphere. But they are in trouble and they might not even be aware of it.

While eating lunch I noticed a young man photographing the street signs on the corner. “Odd behavior” thought I. After a delicious lunch and great conversation, on the way back to my car I saw another man taking a picture with his phone. It looked like he was shooting the street. Not far from him was a man on his phone and I overheard a snippet of conversation that went something like “well I want a police officer out here to look at this.”

Maybe I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer but it wasn’t until I was half way back to the office that I realized someone had stuck a flyer on my rearview mirror. Only as I pulled it out did I realize that my “flyer” was actually a parking ticket. Then of course I realized why everyone else was acting odd. They too had gotten tickets.

In a tough economy it is not unusual for police departments to become more stingy in their enforcement. Today was apparently street sweeping day and if you stopped to read the small print perhaps you’ll see that on the signs (though with the way folks were behaving, maybe not).

But what happens to the stores in the Highlands area, particularly popular restaurants like Heidi’s? I can certainly tell you that I am less inclined to patronize Heidi’s again.
This is the law of unintended consequences. Something that is pretty much out of control of Heidi’s Deli is harming their business. The people who are paid to protect those businesses and neighbors are actually driving away customers.

What could Heidi’s Deli do about this? They do have some options. They could have their staff ask / warn customers about police eager to ticket. They could put signs in the doors, with warnings. They could work with the city and the police department to figure out a better way to handle parking issues. They could even put yellow tape along the part of the street that runs by their property with a warning. All of these could help their situation and make them into heroes for their customers. On this day, in this situation, they did nothing which hurts their business even more.

So what does this have to do with a blog on Internet Marketing (other than being a venue for me to vent about the DPD)? Everything. Look at your web site. What might be happening on or around your site that is driving people away just as surely as the Denver Police Department is making it clear I shouldn’t do business in the Highlands?

These factors could be things that seem out of your control but they might not actually be. Is your domain name easily misspelled? If so, people might be going to the wrong site. Unless of course you think to purchase common misspellings of your domain and capture that traffic back to your real site. Is your site hosted on a slow server? If people have to wait they simply won’t. They’ll move on to a site that is faster. But you could move your site to a faster server and keep those visitors.

Just like Heidi’s needs to be aware of factors outside of their store that could affect their business, you should be aware of and work to mitigate factors that could affect your web site.

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3 Reasons to Invest in your Web Presence in a Down Economy

What’s happening in your financial world? If you’re like most folks, you’re not sure whether we’re headed up or down or what is around the next corner.

In uncertain times it can be difficult to see a way forward and spending money is the last thing many business owners want to do. Yet here I am telling you to invest in your web site. What gives?

Here are THREE reasons you want to invest in your site now:

  1. Get better efficiency. There are several ways to accomplish this: Put more information on your web site so you spend less time answering the same questions over and over again; Qualify your customers better through your site so that those you contact are ready to do business; Reduce or eliminate your store front and sell more from the web site. These are just a few of the ways you can be more efficient with an investment in your site.
  2. While your competitors are giving up and going away, you can establish a firm or firmer foundation now on your web site without having to build a new building or sign an expensive new lease. Your site should look professional (good design), be functional (easy for customers to do what you want them to do) and be search-friendly (search engine optimization)
  3. Get more customers. Beat the rest of the crowd that is still stuck on search engine optimization – which means driving more traffic to your web site – and get started on conversion optimization – which means getting the folks who visit your web site to buy, register, signup, or whatever your call to action is. If you have any degree of traffic you should look at what those visitors are doing and if they aren’t contacting you to do business, optimize the process to make it smoother for them to do business with you.
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Measuring the Success of your Company’s Social Media Marketing

I know a business owner who has complete command of his business numbers. He measures and analyzes the statistics of every aspect of his online marketing. He’s on top of making critical adjustments to his marketing plan on the basis of these numbers.

When it comes to investing in social media marketing, for him, there’s a pesky problem. Measuring the return on investment, or ROI, of such a plan isn’t pretty. The numbers don’t stand alone.

Why? First, it’s critical to understand that a business’ social media marketing is tied directly to the success of the website in one critical area — conversion. The goal of a successful social media plan in business is  to drive traffic to the company website. So, logically, if the website is optimized to convert traffic to sales, then the company can measure THAT success in business volume — or response to the call to action on the site.

Even the best social media marketing plan might be dynamically effective at driving traffic to the website, a measurable statistic, but it is a stand-alone number. Then, the number to focus on is how well the website is doing at converting traffic to sales.

Savvy business owners get this. Still, the compelling factor for investing in any marketing is always the ROI.

Here’s where the argument for using social media for marketing seems to come apart and why it can be so difficult to convince owners to invest in it. It isn’t a stand-alone measurement. And, like the owner I mentioned before, businesses  are usually making decisions about marketing dollars based on the numbers.

There are lots of numbers that help a business owner feel good about their marketing investment. And, there are plenty of companies that will throw numbers together in a convincing way that promise a return on social media marketing.

But, let’s be honest. It’s only a tool to drive traffic to the website. Social media sites are a place for people to connect with a business online through interactive dialogue. They have a chance to informally “like” you. Then, they “like” you enough to use another tool in your marketing arsenal — the website. Once folks are on the website, then you’re talking about numbers that really count in business.

Social media marketing in business isn’t talking about when you’ve brushed your teeth or what color your shoes are today. If it’s done correctly, it’s a way for businesses to generate a buzz about their passion — whether it’s culinary or construction or counseling.

It’s a tool. It works and plays well with others in the overall online marketing plan. And all together, they build a business’ online success. Collectively, the numbers matter.

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